‘Padmaavat’ Review: Same Old Tropes That Will Test Your Patience

Posted by Meghna Deshmukh in Culture-Vulture
January 26, 2018

Over the past few decades, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has given us many memorable and original films, especially in his earlier years. If you guys haven’t watched Khaamoshi I recommend you do. Unfortunately, over the past few years, he seems to have been repeating the same formula but with a different story. I don’t have the aukaat to say this about him but this is what I’ve noticed in his past films:

1. Grand Sets;

2. The female lead gets a song;

3. The male lead gets a song;

4. There is a romantic song; and

5. They usually have an unhappy yet somewhat satisfying ending.

This method might have worked for “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” and “Devdas”, but honestly, I’m growing tired of seeing the same thing. Especially since his last three films have starred Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

But saying this, “Ram Leela” and “Bajirao Mastaani” did give me some goosebumps, sadly “Padmaavat” less so.

“Padmaavat” is about Rani Padmavati who was married to Maharawal Ratan Singh of Chittor and the object of affection of Sultan Allaudin Khilji.

In the movie, Deepika plays Rani Padmavati while Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer play Maharawal and Khilji respectively.

The lead pair of the movie is not Deepika and Ranveer but Deepika and Shahid. They had good chemistry, but I didn’t find their story interesting. I was more interested in the love triangle between Ranveer Singh, Jim Sarbh (his lover, Malik Kafur), and Aditi Rao Hydari (his wife, Mehrunissa).

The movie is extremely long and will test your patience. This is a problem I’ve had with most of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films. I noticed most of the story is covered in the first half, but we have to endure another hour after the interval. The movie drags, what could’ve been 90 minutes becomes 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Though credit where it’s due, the sets and costumes are great, it’s what we’ve come to expect. I feel only Ranveer Singh had something new to offer. As Khilji, he was exciting and unpredictable.The lead pair was great but, we’ve seen Deepika and Shahid play similar roles before. The three leads work well together, but they deserve a better script.

The movie is inspired by a poem of the same name by Malik Muhammad Jayasi written in 1540. Those who know about the poem will obviously know how it ends. Those who don’t might have learned a bit from the political controversies. Now, there is no concrete proof that Rani Padmini existed, in fact, she is considered a myth by many historians. Moments after Padmaavat’s set was vandalized by Karni Sena, noted historian S. Irfan Habib tweeted there was ‘No mention in any historical records before this’.

On the other hand, many historians believe Rani Padmini did exist, But Khilji’s obsession with her and Chittor was a myth. I believe Rani Padmini may have been a myth characterized by the best traits of many of Rajasthan’s queens combined. The movie in the beginning very clearly states that it was inspired by the poem and doesn’t intend to harm any community. In fact, it doesn’t, I would go as far as saying that it glorifies it.

Overall, the movie is everything we’ve come to expect from a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. It’s grand, beautiful and well acted. It, however, follows the same tropes as his previous two films and doesn’t offer anything different from what we already know. It is unnecessarily long and will at times test your patience.